100 Best Philly Albums of all Time

It seemed like a good idea in the meeting ...

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53. Dusty Springfield

A Brand New Me / Atlantic, 1970

Marrying Springfield's gorgeous pop vocals to the Gamble and Huff sound may sound like a no-brainer in retrospect, but at the time it was a revolutionary fusion. From the opening salvo of "Lost," Springfield sounds energized, delivering pitch-perfect blue-eyed soul that never quite escapes the sadness that permeates her best performances. A Brand New Me simultaneously updated Springfield's sound and let Dusty be Dusty at her most soulful, understated best. Remember when singers used to simply deliver their lyrics without rolling every vowel sound? This disc could still serve as a primer for would-be divas, from Christina to Beyonc� and back again.

54. Tammi Terrell

Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell: Greatest Hits / Motown, 1971

Philly girl Tammi Terrell was never one of the better known Motown names, but she did wonders for Marvin Gaye's career. She teamed up with Gaye on "Ain't No Mountain High Enough," "You're All I Need to Get By" and "Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing" among others, and the pair's teasing affection for each other had the records jumping off the charts. Sadly, Terrell died of a brain tumor at 24 amid rumors that she'd been abused by a number of male soul singers--James Brown and David Ruffin, among them. She also made a number of solo recordings, but these with Marvin Gaye are the ones that will stand.

55. Schoolly D

Schoolly D / Jive, 1986

A gangsta-rap pioneer, Jesse B. Weaver Jr. enraged city officials with his explicit lyrics about living in inner-city Philadelphia. Though the shock of the new wore off with subsequent albums--and he acquired a degree of mainstream acceptance when he appeared on the soundtracks of Abel Ferrara movies--this debut was both funny and violent. It includes "P.S.K. What Does It Mean?", an introduction to a young man looking for cash and having sex with a woman who turns out to be a prostitute; "Put Your Filas On," which doesn't stray far from the cash-ho-bragging-rights formula; and "Gucci Time," which focused on criminality and was later sampled by the Beastie Boys. Whether you appreciate Schoolly's gangsta profile, there's no question that persona was hugely influential on the West Coast--and it all started with this album.

56. Kenn Kweder

Kwederology Volumes I and II / Pandemonium, 2002

Almost 30 years in the making, this three-disc set spans the prodigious career of Philly's old original scenester, the legendary Kenn Kweder. The set features classic Kweder album cuts--everything from "The Old Tan Datsun," "Heroin" and "Jack Kerouac" to "Turning Myself In," "Girl With the Dylan Flowers" and "The Ballad of Manute Bol"--plus rare live recordings, studio outtakes, bar fights and phone conversations. No Philadelphian should be without this collection.

57. Marah

Kids in Philly / Artemis, 2000

Between their promising debut Let's Cut the Crap and Hook up Later on Tonight and the polished turd that was Float Away With the Friday Night Gods, brothers Dave and Serge Bielanko damn near struck gold with this superb case study of life on the streets in the City of Brotherly Love. Standout moments include a song intro by Hy Lit, a shout-out to the late Frank "Smockey" LaMassa and some blistering guitar on "The Catfisherman."

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Comments 1 - 18 of 18
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1. Serease Brown said... on Nov 13, 2008 at 09:34AM

“Buuter, Who sings the song Step Into My World , I heard it on your show female group? Thanks Serase”

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2. Drew said... on Jul 23, 2009 at 12:01AM

“"Backstabbers" was hardly early in the O'Jays' career. The group has been recording and touring since 1960.They were a quintet until 1965/66, then a quartet until they resigned with Gamble-Huff and became a trio. Prior to being a trio and hitting with "Backstabbers" they had recorded for at least six different labels with most of their songs scoring in the high echelons of R&B charts in the cities they were played.”

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3. greg said... on Jul 24, 2009 at 04:36PM

“I was in Sweet Stavin Chain and Good God...I was also in a band called Breakwater in the late '70's and early '80's that had 2 successful albums on Arista and a national following. It was one of the best funk bands ever to come out of Philadelphia and one of the few truly self-contained bands on the soul side of town to make a mark. It still gets played on WDAS...the songs were good enough. I'm a little surprised that it didn't get a mention here.
By the way, were getting together again after almost thirty years and it's a real pleasure. The band sounds possibly better than it did back then... nice to know it's still there after all these years, makes you think you were on to something the first time. Keep your eyes peeled, we'll be playing out before the year is out.


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4. Frank C. said... on Jul 26, 2009 at 08:29PM

“Hats off for citing Essra Mohawk's PRIMORDIAL LOVERS but it should be in Top 10, for sure!
The album still blows me away and to think Essra was only 21 when she created it... Not only is it, for my money, the best of the earliest singer-songwriter works, but Rhino Records even went one step further by essentially calling it the mother album of "grrrl power."
Essra, rock on!!!”

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5. Richard Romanowski said... on Dec 25, 2009 at 06:24AM

“Essra, for me, has become a suitable, iconic legend. One listen ro ant of her songs could alone exolain my rationale behind thid thinking. Her songs are truly an inspiration, they are a force to be dealt with. I feel her melodies bery deeply, surging within the innermost parts of my very soul. Thank you. Rich Romanowski of Romanowski Studios (look for my songs on YouTube.”

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6. Joann Cape May NJ said... on May 14, 2010 at 12:42AM

“My husband John Bussell is still alive, still singing and playing for his family and friends.”

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7. john travis said... on May 27, 2010 at 10:19AM

“What about the album Dobbs Lives. only 1000 copies were made, 1980 copy right, Living Room Artists Productions.”

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8. Fluke said... on Mar 24, 2011 at 11:53PM

“Tommy Conwell, are you joking? After he stopped booze and drugs, and became the real him, one of the biggest jerkoffs to ram the earth.”

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9. Ed said... on Nov 17, 2011 at 10:15AM

“The "John Bussell" I'm curious about would be hard to miss ... maybe 6'10" tall!!! Graduated Olney High School Class of '67. He played drums, played with us on graduation night, played drums in Sweet Stavin Chain ... still with us??? Inquiring minds (and old friends) want to know. May be a 45th HS Reunion coming up in May '2012. Please advise”

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10. Dave said... on Feb 10, 2012 at 01:54PM

“The Kit Kats at #81-
the correct song title is "Won't Find Better Than Me", just sayin'”

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11. Michael said... on Feb 28, 2012 at 07:28PM

“What. No mention of American Dream, Good News, Crystal Mansion, Woody Truck Stop, High Treason. Are you sure you were in Philly those years?”

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12. The Warped Vinyl Junkie said... on Mar 28, 2013 at 08:10PM

“You include Bessie Smith on your list since she died near Philadelphia? What an ignorant way to make up a "top 100" list. My vote is you are -200.”

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13. Joann Bussell said... on Nov 7, 2013 at 02:56PM

“Just want to add I am the wife of John Bussell .We married in 1970 and still together today. John Bussell of Sweet Stavin Chain is Alive and well. At 65 he still playing his guitars and singing to his grandkids lol. So late he is not. Lol Still living and loving life.”

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14. Larry said... on May 9, 2014 at 04:58PM

“How come you did not have the singing group the futures on the list?”

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15. Anonymous said... on Sep 16, 2014 at 04:29PM

“U forgot First Choice!”

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16. Anonymous said... on Oct 16, 2014 at 12:41PM

“Two corrections. David Bowie's "David Live" was released on RCA, not Capitol (Bowie's never been on Capitol); and Clarence Clemons recorded "Woman's Got The Power," not "After Last Night."”

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17. Ed Feldamn said... on Dec 5, 2014 at 10:57AM

“The Philadelphia Orchestra, you incredibly ignorant bastards.”

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18. Tom Rothermel said... on Apr 29, 2015 at 10:36PM

“How did you miss American Dream? Incredible band, amazing album. My high school rock band covered several of their songs.

Great to see Edison Electric Band and Good God on the list. Two of my other Philly favorites from the day.”


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